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Nightlife: The Publick House

Hearty food and 200 kinds of beer, but don’t ask for a pitcher

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The Publick House in Washington Square, whose menu is heavy on rich and meaty foods and beverage list is broad on beer and ale. Photos by Kalman Zabarsky

The sign over the bar tells patrons what kind of place this is not: “No Shots, No Pitchers.” This is not for people who think of beer as a route to inebriation. (It is also, visitors should know before ordering, not the kind of place that accepts American Express.)

But what kind of place is the Publick House, whose formal name is the Publick House Beer Bar and Kitchen? Informal. It is friendly, merry, dimly lit, and decorated, for some reason, in a style that might be called late Crusader. The kitchen is heavy on rich and meaty foods, and the beverage list is absurdly broad on beer and ale. The bar and restaurant (awarded 2010 Best Beer List by Boston magazine and 2011 Best Bar, Beer Geeks by the Boston Phoenix) offers nearly 200 different types of beer and ale, many of them of Belgian and German origin and as hearty as the food they are served with. Drinking an Einbecker Schwarzbier while eating Trappist Meatloaf (more about that later), for example, is like eating two meals, three if you clean your plate.

The shots and pitchers prohibition may keep the frat boys at bay, but it doesn’t seem to hurt business. On a recent Monday night the dozen tables in the dining area were filled by 7:30, and the room was buzzing with conversation. The crowd here is a young to middle-aged college/professional looking bunch, a mix of couples and after-work socializers.

Looking for a quiet, romantic spot? Go someplace else. The Publick House is filled with noise, good cheer, and calories. The signature dish here is an adult-rated Mac and Cheese ($13), made with orrechetti pasta, five-cheese sauce, and choice of add-ins: tomato, mushroom, spinach, caramelized onion, asparagus, cherry pepper, broccoli, bacon, andouille sausage, shrimp, scallops, chicken, and truffle cream.

If the kitchen can do that with mac and cheese, you might wonder, what can they do with real food? Lots. Mussels ($16 and $9), on the starters menu, are served four ways; with herbed garlic butter; with fresh herbs and cream; with bacon, spinach, leeks, and cherry tomatoes; and with India pale ale, red curry, and lime. We went for the kick, with option number four—red curry and lime—and were not disappointed. Craving meat that night, we ordered the Trappist Meatloaf ($17), made with beef, pork, veal, and prosciutto and topped with melted cheese. Yes, it is rich. In fact, it would be hard at most restaurants to find a meatier dish, but not so at the Publick House.

Much of the food served here is filling. There are two hearty stews—Waterzooi aux Poissons ($16), a traditional Belgian stew of mixed seafood in a creamy roasted tomato and herb broth, and Carbonade Flamande ($15), a Flemish concoction of slow-braised beef with root vegetables, herbs, and spices. We chose the Obligatory Pub Fish and Chips ($14) with lemon and caper tartar sauce, and were pleased that the chef felt so obliged. The fish was light and sweet, and perfectly blanketed in batter.

For vegetarians, there is sustenance in the form of the Stuffed Bell Pepper ($13), with corn, mushrooms, caramelized onion, asiago, and bread crumbs, or the Veggie Burger ($9), with carrot, green peas, and zucchini. The Publick House also serves a short line of sandwiches.

On our visit, the restaurant filled early, and the bar a bit later, although with an equally lively crowd. A special room off the bar called the Monk’s Cell, where only draft beers from Belgium are served, was unoccupied. Belgian Monks, apparently, are late-night partyers.

The Publick House Beer Bar and Kitchen bar is open Monday through Friday from 5 p.m. to 2 a.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 4 p.m. to 2 a.m. Kitchen hours are 5 to 11 p.m. Monday through Friday and 4 to 11 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. The Publick House does not take American Express.
1648 Beacon St., Brookline, Mass. 02445
617-277-2880

MBTA: take the Green Line C trolley to the Washington Square Stop. Cross Washington Street to the right side of Beacon Street.

Art Jahnke can be reached at jahnke@bu.edu.

This is part of a series featuring Boston nightspots of interest to the BU community. If you have any suggestions for places we should feature, leave them in the comments section below.

2 Comments

2 Comments on Nightlife: The Publick House

  • Anonymous on 12.09.2010 at 11:10 am

    Congratulations

    It’s a sports bar!!!

    Never seen one of those before.

  • Anonymous on 12.09.2010 at 8:32 pm

    wrong, why so angry?

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